Monday, November 29, 2010

Prayer #142: Wonder

Prayer #142: Wonder

Rapt attention at something awesomely mysterious.

Someone has been whispering to me in the long dark.

The voice stirs in my heart as a baby stirs in a womb.

Cause of astonishment or admiration.

The light hasn't emerged in ages.

Yet still I sense it pulsing behind the night, aching to burst.

A feeling of doubt or uncertainty.

Are the voice and the light one?

Will the combined force mute me? Blind me?

How can I, weak and struggling, withstand its brilliance?


I don't know how. But I will.

For all this defines wonder.

All this defines You.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Prayer #141: Thanksgiving Parade

Hand Turkeys 2008

Prayer #141: Thanksgiving Parade

Once I plan
Once I prep
Once I call
Once I shop
Once I brine
Once I mop
Once I dust
Once I bake
Once I roast
Once I set
Once I stir
Once I greet
Once I serve
Once I smile
Once I pour
Once I chat
Once I clear
Once I wash
Once I store
Once I talk
Once I wave
Once I clean (yet again) ...

Then I think I'll have time to thank You, amen.

Or ...

I can say it now. Say it first.

Because without You, I would not be caught up in this boisterous parade we call life, with all its colors and crowding and blink-and-miss moments.

I will keep You in my sights this holiday, even if my eyes are teary from onions, bleary from wine, or heavy with sleep. For You are conducting the music, and I'm thankful to march alongside.


[Want a different sort grace to say at your Thanksgiving meal? Try this on for size: The Turkey's Not Thankful]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Prayer #140: Two Roads Diverged ...

Today's prayer first demands a re-read of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Now, check out that last stanza again. I never read the poem closely enough to realize this before, but he's talking about the future. The narrator has no idea what his immediate decision in the woods will result in. He knows only that he must choose, because he can't stand out there waiting to sprout roots and be removed of all responsibility.

I know the feeling. My chosen road took me away farther from my family and relatives. It led to a school up north, a city down south, a career in a different field, a boyfriend in a distant state. It has circled back to find me writing. Each way does indeed lead on to way.

No wonder Frost chose 'sigh' to punctuate his final thought. This tidy choice conveys satisfaction and melancholy in one syllable. Because choice leads to gain as well as loss, and it means sacrifice as much as it means opportunity.

I know this feeling too. Right now, I'm thinking about my cousin (my age) who just announced she is pregnant with her first child. About how I might not be able to travel north for all the family holiday parties. Also about my high school friend applying for PhD programs. And about one day opening a box packed with copies of my first published book.

Two roads diverge in a yellow wood. I'm taking the ones that make me sigh.

Prayer #140: Two Roads Diverged ...

Two roads diverge each day I live,
And all those days, my steps I choose.

I try considering options all --
What's right for me? What's best by You? --

But thoughts converge with blinding speed:
Should I have stayed? Should I have veered?

That's when I hear Your whispered shout:
I never ask you live in fear.

Doubt, confusion -- each will come.
But never fear when you're with me.

Lord, I wish I could travel both,
If just to know what might (or will not) be.

Still, two roads diverge each day I live, and I --

I'll lead the life You chose to give.


Monday, November 08, 2010

Prayer #139: News Fatigue

Un écureuil un peu fatigué

Prayer #139: News Fatigue

Ok God ... the news has worn me out. These are noisy, noisome times we're facing. Words like 'volcano' and 'coup' and 'dip in the stock exchange' paper the papers. Reality on the ground doesn't match academic coverage. Everyone's sniping; no one's moderating.

The worst part? The grim tumult has reached such a fever pitch that I can't hear You right now.

You could be war-whooping within the thick of the fray. Whistling over the din, perhaps? Or maybe You're simply whispering to me as I struggle to quiet my mind for sleep.

Still, even though my ears aren't picking You out, my heart is. And it somehow knows You're helping the canary warble from the dark depths of the coal mine.

Please keep that little guy singing, Lord. Its hope is music to us all.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Prayer #138: Rest/Stop

Have returned from Austin exhausted, cold-ridden, melancholy, relieved, and a-buzz about what the Austin Unscripted project will lead to. What's more, this return has also capped off five months of nonstop airports, visits, (re)adjustments, emergencies, and other upheavals of all stripes.

No wonder I slept 13 hours last night.

Not that one can ever be 'done,' of course. Life keeps running no matter how many times you jam STOP! on your feeble remote control. Nor do I want to be done, really. Then I'd miss out on awesome and exciting things too.

A pause, however, is always welcome. Necessary, even. And that's what I'm aiming for now.

Prayer #138: Rest/Stop

Hit the brakes. Take that exit. I need a vending machine stocked with chocolate and popcorn and a restroom filled with new mattresses and down pillows.

I've decided, Lord -- as much as it's in my power to decide such things -- that I am done. No mas. Time for balance. Time for equilibrium. Time for a routine, for mealtimes, for all-around stay-put-edness.

Sit with me on the bench near the curb. We'll leave the car parked, locked. Let's watch the other travelers pull in, pull out, pull over. Show me what contentment looks like in the afternoon sun, and I'll mimic You until I master it.

There. I've put my feet up. Help me hold them in place.